"Blue rain from a blue sky. Our world a cube of sunlight- but to the south the violet admonition of thunder." -- Alistair Te Ariki Campbell
I moved from Chile to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa in 2011. I thought I'd stay a few months before moving on. It's almost 2015 and still, I'm here. Working in hospitality since my arrival, I've met many a stranger. Businessmen keep to their business, chefs keep to their kitchens, and travelers keep to the road. The good ones stay just long enough to become friends -- then they move on, and more strangers take their place. That's how travel is unless you're the one who stays behind, settling like a phantom tollbooth without the sparks. Two years ago, I met a traveler who wanted to stay with me. Six months later, she asked me to marry. For her, I forever traded those sweet nights of bonding and drugs for sweeter mornings of spoons and tea.
On one of our mornings, my wife and I came across Leonardo DiCaprio's address at the UN Climate Summit of 2014. The veracity of his words was immediate. In short, the world is facing its sixth mass extinction. Sorry to disappoint the activists out there, but this isn't a rallying cry to the streets. Humanity doesn't change as swiftly as nature does. And hell, Leo just had his three-day birthday bash that wasn't exactly "green," so even the activists can't practice what they preach. Unfortunately, our tortured planet will continue to digress. So what can we do? We can rally to the road. We can set the tollbooth afire to become travelers again, or for the first time.
"My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that." -- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
We settled for good reason. We live on the beach where we married one year ago this December. We work in an unencumbered first-world country that gives us money for residency and a house, a higher education and children. Paradise if you're ready for it, the doldrums if you're not. Maybe we're crazy to let it fall away, but I'm 28 and my wife is 25. The majority of my friends from home (the States) are married or on their way, the majority of her friends from home (Chile) have children. Of the friends we've met from our tollbooth, almost all are still on the road, changing with the whims of travel, seeing the world as it moves. It's time to catch up; it's time to reach out in hopes of a traveling guide and some good old-fashioned hospitality. The long night drinks and mid-afternoon hangovers are not in vain. So our first-world money made will be third-world money spent.
Starting in March, our de-settlement begins. The process will take us over five months through eleven countries. We will start with New Zealand's South Island before taking on Australia, Bali, Singapore, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. From Southeast Asia we jetset to Rome where we will travel by train through Italy, France and Spain. From Madrid we take off to Boston, Massachusetts to visit family and friends. After one month of summer in the States, we will fly to Santiago, Chile, where we will gather again.
"You could not step into the same river twice." -- Heraclitus
The world first opened to me as a teenager, when I lived in Zaragoza, Spain -- far from everyone I trusted and loved. I knew then that my most comfortable was gone. I knew then that life was just a glimpse of the world. I saw its beauty and lived its beast. I'd walked the cliffs of Cadaques where Dalí painted his first landscapes; and watched heroin flow where skin met bone. I'd bathed in waterfalls of The Pyrenees; and felt the vicious blows of anti-American sentiment. I'd footballed with the fallen oranges of Seville; and escaped into nights of policia and kalimotxo.
Ten years later I return to where adventure began, accompanied by my wife -the person I most love and trust. Oh how we change. Look! The world changes. It burns. It's something to live by. My wife and I will settle into its fires one day, but right now they've inspired us to keep moving, to journey and live unpredictably. We've got to experience this endangered place to appreciate its complexity, diversity, and rhythm. So come with us. Change to travel. Change to see. Change to live our world before it becomes DiCaprio's speech.